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PATRICIA L. RICKARD

Executive Director Foundation for Educational Achievement
Formerly Named San Diego Community College District Foundation 1985 - Present

California Adult Student Assessment System
San Diego Community College District 1980 - 1985

Audio file

This Interview is part of the "Impact: California's Federal Adult Education Projects".
Two other interviews are part of this volume:
John Fleischman | K. Lynn Savage

PDF file of "Impact: California's Federal Adult Education Projects".

Excerpt from an interview with: Patricia L. Rickard
INTERVIEWER: Cuba Miller
DATE: April 16, 1998

Project Overview

MILLER:
The Consortium did much of its work through committees. What was the committee structure and their responsibilities?

RICKARD:
Well, first, what I'd like to back up and talk about is that in the first years it was just really critical. … Because we were a working Consortium, it was critical that we met on a regular basis. But with limited funding and limited resources and time, we set up a structure so that we had a Northern Consortium and a Southern Consortium. We tried in the first early years to meet monthly, and we tried to back up the Consortium meetings so that each would have the very same agenda, and they would meet on consecutive days. We one month would meet in the north first and the south second, the next month we would meet in the south first and the north second. We would share the outcome of the north with the south, the south with the north. We would then send out minutes from both. And we within the Northern and Southern Consortium set up committees, and we had the same committee structure north and south. Several times a year we would then pull the committees together. But that was our attempt to continue an intensive level of ongoing communication, because they were working groups with limited resources.

MILLER:
They had quite different personalities too, didn't they? Do you want to share some of the flavor of that? [Chuckling]

RICKARD:
Well, it was really quite interesting. In the north, the Northern Consortium arrived early, rolled up their sleeves, and sometimes went on way past quitting time. In the south, although there was the same dedication in terms of the committee structure, the L.A. freeway traffic was a determining factor for when the committees ended in the afternoon. I think some of the dynamics between the north and the south is that in the north we had more medium and small districts and agencies, so we had people sitting on the Consortium that wore several hats. They were the ABE and the ESL coordinator, and, in smaller districts, and the GED/high school coordinator. Since they sat in all three chairs, it was easier for them to look across the needs and to have a more global view of a systems approach of students coming in and moving through the system. In the south, with larger districts, we would have representatives that would come that represented the ESL program, we would have their counterpart that represented the ABE program, and there might be a third representative that coordinated the GED/high school program. And so, because some of the districts were so large, we had to work harder sometimes to integrate

MILLER:
Cross those lines.

RICKARD:
Integrate the continuum and look at not just an ESL component or an ABE component. Or, this competency is not an ESL competency, all students need this particular competency, whether they be limited English proficient or native speakers of English. The size of the districts, and wearing many hats to just wearing one hat those were some of the dynamics that interplayed with what we were doing.

Impact of Project

RICKARD:
We have had state adoptions in approximately eighteen states. We have a presence in all fifty states. And by presence, I mean that there may be individual programs within that state that are using the CASAS system but they're not statewide. Also, when I say a state adoption, in a few cases that adoption is not the adult education system. In one state it's with the JTPA system statewide, and their adult education system as of yet has not-

MILLER:
Hasn't come on board.

RICKARD:
It hasn't come on board, but the state JTPA system has implemented statewide. In one case, the state Department of Corrections has adopted CASAS statewide and the ABE system has not. In some states such as Oregon, CASAS has been implemented statewide across almost all of their agencies, JTPA, Health and Human Services, corrections, community college system, volunteer programs, welfare, and-

MILLER:
And whatever else comes up.

RICKARD:
And what is really very powerful about that is, in the case of Oregon, they now have a statewide database across programs that looks at the literacy needs of their adult population, no matter what agency is serving them. So I think Oregon has made great strides. We have states such as Connecticut that have adopted and have been implementing CASAS since the mid-'80s. And not only have they implemented across their adult education system, but it's being used in their JTPA system and in their Welfare to Work system. In some states they have a policy that they're not going to have, quote, statewide adoptions. But each county, county by county, makes their own selection, and currently an example of that would be Florida, where we're working with a number of different counties, and very large counties in southern Florida, but there is not a statewide adoption.

MILLER:
Not an official statewide adoption.

RICKARD:
So, it varies from state to state. In some states it may be that it's implemented in a few local programs for ABE and ESL, but not statewide anywhere. So, if you look on it that way, we have a presence in all fifty states at this point, but statewide adoptions in approximately eighteen. And we're currently working with about four other states who … because of state mandates and new state laws, must put in place an accountability system within the next year. And so-

MILLER:
So they're looking for one ready-made. [Chuckling]

RICKARD:
Yes, and they'd like it instantly. [Chuckling] I think that this is a good place to talk about what does it take to implement a system versus a test. Implementing a system-

MILLER:
CASAS is not a test. CASAS is a system. [Chuckling]

RICKARD:
Well, it's a systems change.

MILLER:
Of course it is.

RICKARD:
It's a change agent for a whole system. It impacts curriculum, it impacts instruction, it impacts the placement process, movement of students from level to level, it has implications for ongoing staff development, it provides very excellent validated tools for program evaluation. But change takes place over time. Change, no matter what the innovation, no matter what the change is, it doesn't happen instantly. And it requires planning, it requires training, it requires ongoing technical assistance, it requires buy-in from administrators, coordinators, and instructors. This just doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes we'll get a call from a state and they'll say, "We've heard about this CASAS [first A mispronounced, as in cat] thing. Could you please just send us the test for our review?" And we're used to that by now. In the end they-

MILLER:
You say, "Yes, I'll be pleased to send you some information about CASAS." [emphasizing correct pronunciation]